Why Study Anthropology?

Submitted by Jeanne Steffener, Higher ED

If you are interested in learning about the when, where, and how of human life, anthropology searches out what it means to be human in terms of culture, biology, history and how all these areas are interrelated. Anthropology strives to understand our humanness through four (4) major sub-disciplines, each focused on a different aspect of what makes us human.

Social or Cultural Anthropology studies human social and cultural behavior.

Linguistics studies human language, its construction and how it is used in societies. There is also interest in the development of languages, how they connect and differ, and processes involved in information dissemination.

Physical or Biological encompasses the study of biological diversity, primate behavior and the evolution of humans over time (paleoanthropology).

Archaeology is the study of our human past through material remains with the aim of reconstructing, ordering and describing the daily life, customs and events of past people.

Through these four areas, anthropologists are tasked with studying people, their cultures around the world and throughout time comparing and contrasting them and trying to answer the question of what does it mean to be human. Through this process is the discovery of how biology and culture intersects in human behavior. As cultures past and present adopt attitudes and behaviors, anthropologists are able to discover what beliefs and values have helped cultures to adapt, survive and reproduce through the generations. Adaptation and survival become key components that will advise our culture what it takes to thrive.

The study of anthropology will defy your assumptions but ultimately prepare you for the diverse world we live in. Through research opportunities in the laboratory and in the field, writing assignments, you will learn technical proficiency and the ability to work in a team setting, gain effective oral and written communication skills, learning analytical reading and critical thinking skills while establishing a deeper understanding of human behavior, biology and the human experience. These skills cultivated and developed while in an anthropology program are widely sought after by a variety of employers. These skills have contributed to solving some of the gravest problems facing society today.

A majority of students who major in anthropology have found career paths after graduation in several occupational areas: health and medicine (doctors, nurses, genetics research, allied health fields, etc.), business, economics and teachings (from pre-school through PhDs. Students with a concentration in social and cultural anthropology matriculate easily into other areas of focus including cross-cultural study of law, politics, economic systems, psychology, and medical systems. By cultivating abilities is useful for anyone whose future job will require them to develop interpersonal skills and work with the public. This applies to just about every college graduate today.

If you have a firm connection to learning about what really makes us human and how that fits into the universe, studying anthropology can be an exciting path to discovering what it is all about. The job possibilities for someone with an anthropology based background are infinite. Please call the Higher ED staff at 360-716-4888 or email us at highered@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov for assistance with this educational path.